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Research Instruments: Identifying

A Note About Identifying Research Instruments

Research instruments can measure:

  • health conditions
  • mental states
  • quality of life
  • and more!

To identify a research instrument or tool appropriate for your project, you will need to do one or more of the following:

  • Search library databases and other resources
  • Read published literature in your field
  • Review citations of published manuscripts for included instruments
  • Speak with researchers in your field to get recommendations

Before You Begin

Do you have enough time?

  • It takes time to identify an instrument, and can take even longer to obtain. They are not always readily available.

Is there a cost and do you have a budget?

  • Some research instruments are freely-available, but many require payment.

Is the instrument reliable and valid?

  • Does the instrument measure what it is intended to, and is it consistent?

Is the instrument available for your use?

  • You MUST obtain the copyright holder's permission. This is especially important if you want to publish your results.

Resources

When searching CINAHL for instruments, you will find articles that discuss using instruments.

  • After you complete your search, you will need to check the abstract or the full text article for more information about the specific instrument.
  • Click on the HTML full-text or attached PDF to read the article.
  • If there is no full text available, use the HSCLink button to search library resources

There are 2 ways to search for instruments by subject.

Option 1:  
  1.  Click Advanced Search. Enter your topic keyword in the search bar.
  2. Select field IN (Instrumentation).
  3. Click Search.
image showing Instrumentation selected for the search in the CINAHL databases
Option 2:  
  1. Click Advanced Search and enter your topic keyword.
  2. Scroll down to view the Search Options. When you see Publication Type, select Questionnaire/Scale or Research Instrument.
  3. Click Search.

A Compendium of Neuropsychological Tests is a well-established book of assessments related to neuropsychology, that allows you to search for instruments by subject.

Some topics include:

  • Attention
  • Motor skills
  • Somatosenory function
  • Visual perception

This electronic book offers author, test,  and subject indices. It also includes pricing and publisher information for the instruments.

The DASS (Depression Anxiety Stress Scales) is designed to measure the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress.

It is a 42-item self-report questionnaire that is free to download and use!

The manual, which contains more detailed information, can be purchased for a nominal fee that is listed on their website.

ERIC stands for Educational Resources Information Center, and is a great database to start with if you're looking for instruments used in education settings.

When searching ERIC for instruments, you will find articles that discuss using instruments.

  • After you complete your search, you will need to check the abstract or the full text article for more information about the specific instrument.
  • Click on the HTML full-text or attached PDF to read the article.
  • If there is no full text available, use the HSCLink button to search library resources

There are a 3 primary ways to search for instruments in ERIC.

Option 1:  

1. By default, you the database will open on the Advanced Search.

2. Scroll down to publication type and select Tests/Questionnaires,

3. Then, enter your topic keyword in the search box and click Search.

An image showing the selection of Tests?Qusetionnaires in the ERIC database.
Option 2:  

1. Enter your topic keyword in the first box.

2. Enter tests/questionnaires in the next box and select PU (publication type) in the field type box.

3. Click Search.

An image showing thesearch boxes for finding the publication type tests or questionnaire related to a keyword term.

ETS maintains a large database of instruments that are available for purchase.

  • For instruments that are not available for purchase, ETS provides citation information to help you find the instrument.

ETS allows you to limit your searches so that you only find instruments they have available for download.

  • Note: there is a fee associated with the download.

There are 2 primary ways to search for instruments in the ETS database.

Option 1: Look for downloadable instruments  

1. Click the Advanced Search Box.

2. For the first box, select Order Information.

3. Enter the keyword downloadable.

4. Enter your topic in the second box, under all fields. Click Search.

 
Option 2: Search all entries  

To search all results (not just downloadable), you can do a basic or advanced search.

  • For a basic search, simply enter your keyword in the search box and hit the enter key.
 
Option 3: Advanced Search  

1. Click the Advanced Search tab.

2. Change the second box to All Fields.

3. Enter your keyword and hit the enter key.

  • Note: In Advanced search, you can also search by subject, year, author, and title, among other categories.
 

 

Health and Psychosocial Instruments includes journal articles that discuss measurement instruments in the health, psychosocial, organizational behavior, and library and information science fields.

Some HaPI records include information about finding specific instruments as well as their reliability. Check the full text of articles for more information about specific instruments.

To search for an instrument in HaPI:

1. The database defaults to the Advanced Search option.

2. Enter your keyword(s) in the search box.

3. Consider limiting to Title.

Image showing Advanced Search in HAPI

4. Click search.

 

Note: Sometimes you may find the full text for an instrument. Be sure to read about the instruments permissions.

Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests In Print database contains information about a wide range of instruments for a variety of disciplines.

 You can search for instruments in two ways:

Option 1:  
Enter a keyword related to your topic and hit Search Image showing keyword search of Mental Measurements Yearbook database.
Option 2:  
Search for a known assessment by name and changing the Select a Field option to TI Test Name Image showing a search in the Mental Measurements Yearbook by title of a known assessment instrument.

 

This online database contains an abundance of information related to each instrument. You can find the test category, population, and purpose of the test, as well as identify the author(s), time, and price.

Note: this database DOES NOT include copies of the actual instrument, but it is a great resource to identify information when asking for permission!

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global contains the full text of a large number of dissertations and theses. Some of the dissertations and theses include entire research instruments.

To search the database:

1. Click Advanced Search, enter your topic in the top box and change the search field to Title.

2. In the second box, input survey, scale, assessment, etc, also changing the search field to Title.

An image showing a search for keywords in the citation title in the Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global Database.

3. You can change the search field to Anywhere if searching the Title only does not produce results.

Note: Keep in mind that the dissertation author might not be the instrument author. Be sure to contact the correct author when seeking permission to use the instrument.

RAND (Research ANd Development) provides downloadable surveys to use free of charge!

Use of the database:

  • Requires an appropriate citation
  • Offers a full list of free and downloadable surveys

Survey topics include:

  • Aging and Health
  • Health Economics
  • HIV, STDs, and Sexual Behavior
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life